CA City Appoints 2 Illegal Immigrants to Commission

Huntington ParkThe city of Huntington Park, perhaps best known as being the home town of Rosario Marin, former treasurer of the United States, made news recently by appointing two people who are in this country illegally to its city commissions.

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According to a Los Angeles Times article, the two appointees have to successfully complete Live Scan background checks before they can assume their positions.

The article further states that commissioners have to be residents of Huntington Park, though the city can allow up to two commissioners to be nonresidents.

These appointments are understandably controversial and they raise some interesting questions, the first of which is: To what extent should we allow noncitizens (and possibly nonresidents) to participate in local government? The second would be: How should we differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants?

There are some countries, such as Sweden, in which resident noncitizens who are in the country legally are entitled to vote in state and municipal elections. Indeed, a resident noncitizen who is entitled to vote in a Swedish state and municipal election can also be elected to both of those governing bodies.

It should be noted, though, that people who are in Sweden illegally can’t register a domicile and can’t get a Swedish ID number (which is similar to our Social Security number, but with many more practical uses). In other words, people who are in the country illegally can’t vote or serve as elected officials.

Makes sense.

In Beverly Hills, we have a residency requirement for our commissioners that applies to citizens and noncitizens alike. Both citizens and noncitizens have to be legal residents of Beverly Hills prior to being allowed to serve on a commission. So someone who has an address in Beverly Hills, but doesn’t actually live here, would not legally and/or legitimately be considered a resident and would not be permitted to serve on a commission.

I would argue that somebody who is not in the country legally is by definition neither a legal nor legitimate resident of this city, and therefore should not be allowed to serve on a commission.

Big Problem — The big problem with the Huntington Park situation is illustrated in a quote by former Huntington Park mayor, Ric Loya, who supports the appointments and who said: “A lot of people who came here legally or illegally, they’re going to say this is great. Everybody can be involved in government, as long as it’s done legally.”

On the one hand, Loya says everyone can be involved in government, as long as it’s done legally. On the other hand, his statement effectively tries to erase any difference between legal and illegal. Legal, illegal: We should all participate, as long as it’s legal. Sorry, there has to be a difference between the meaning of the words “legal” and “illegal,” both as a matter of fairness and common sense.

If we try to eliminate the distinctions between “legal” and “illegal,” we might as well change the meanings of “right” and “wrong.” Neither should we treat those who have broken the rules the same as those who have played by them.

Who ultimately gets to decide which rules, which laws we can break without any consequences?

The notion that someone who is in this country illegally can pass a background check seems somewhat absurd – unless the check’s sole purpose is to exclude felons who have been convicted of violent crimes.

What, in the background check, aside from the obvious violent crimes and felonies, would disqualify someone from serving on a commission in Huntington Park? A prior conviction for which someone had already served his time? Civil financial infractions? A failed drug test? Whatever the case, it seems that people whose very presence in this country is predicated on a violation of our laws should not be allowed to serve on municipal commissions within a governmental entity.

Those who feel that breaking immigration laws is either a “victimless infraction” or a “trivial offense” would need to create a full list and specify which crimes, offenses or misdemeanors should disqualify people from serving on city commissions and why.

Beyond the issue of city commissions, the attempt to render the distinctions between the words “legal” and “illegal” meaningless – as is often done by polemicists who refuse to acknowledge the difference between anti-immigrant positions and anti-illegal-immigration views – is very dangerous from both a linguistic and a public-policy perspective.

A misappropriation of the terms could effectively justify a selective following of and enforcement of any number of laws as well as, conversely, encourage vigilantism.

While the Huntington Park decision might be motivated by pure populism, it is extremely problematic in its obvious disregard for federal law; the city shouldn’t complain when its own residents start deciding which municipal laws they themselves do and don’t want to obey.

John Mirisch is the Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.

Originally published by L.A. City Watch


  1. The feds should not send any money for any reason to any city that does not enforce immigration laws. On this subject Trump is right. Send them all home.

  2. If White Liberal Guilt gave us the glory of the Obama Administration,
    what will the Brown Guilt of the Legal Hispanic Community give us.
    Aren’t the Bell’s, Cudahy’s, and Bell Gardens’ enough already?

  3. INVADING CRIMINALS.. Please stop calling them immigrants. It’s an insult to everyone who IS a TRUE IMMIGRANT. They are nothing more than INVADING CRIMINALS. However, it’s OUR fault for not electing moral decent Conservatives and getting involved in politics.

  4. Weren’t there any LEGAL residents qualified for the job? I know the job isn’t brain surgery and any five year old can do the job, but this is so wrong on so many counts. John is right, cut them off financially until they start enforcing the immigration laws.

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